The European Union’s anti-corruption watchdog known by the acronym OLAF, has named Aija Kalnaja, the acting director of Frontex—the bloc’s border agency—a “person of concern” in an investigative probe into the organization.
Kalnaja, a former police officer in Latvia, assumed leadership of the agency in April after her predecessor, Fabrice Leggeri, resigned from the position. During his leadership, the Swedish European Commissioner for Migration and Security and Frontex’s supervisory authority, Ylva Johansson, requested an investigation by OLAF, which subsequently found that the agency—under the direction of Leggeri—had been tolerating illegal deportations and pushbacks at the EU’s borders, Der Spiegel reports.
Although news of the investigation, whose details haven’t been revealed to the public, reached the European Commission and member states late last month, members of the European Parliament were kept in the dark.
“I was notified by OLAF that I am a person of concern in one case, which consists of two separate events. I cooperate with OLAF fully, openly and unconditionally to clarify the facts,” Kalnaja said in a statement given to EURACTIV, adding that “due to the confidentiality of the investigation” she could not provide any details at the present moment.
“As soon as it would be legally possible, I am available to discuss the details,” Kalnaja added.
The EU anti-corruption agency has confirmed that there is indeed an “ongoing investigation concerning Frontex. However, they noted that since “investigations are ongoing, OLAF cannot issue any further comments” to “protect the confidentiality” of the investigation.
Frontex’s board is set to vote on whether Kalnaja will become the agency’s permanent director on Tuesday, December 20th.